The Changing Climate Of Professional Boxing

BY Jose Corpas ON March 17, 2016
PDFPrintE-mail

 cus life mag 2c0c2

By Jose Corpas

My nose was sunburnt last week. 

Not counting vacations, it was the first time that happened during the winter.  While I was out relishing the near 80-degree March weather, others warned it was not a good thing.  The 30 degree higher than normal temps were because of greenhouse effects they said.  Climate change. 

It was a reminder that not all change is good and it got me to thinking that boxing is in the midst of a climate change of its own.

Around the same time attached thumbs became mandatory and trainers went into a mini-scramble to relearn how to clinch, a pair of other changes were implemented - the ramifications of which are only recently being noticed. 

On December 9, 1982, the WBC announced it was reducing the number of rounds in title fights from 15 to 12 effective January 1, 1983.  Safety was the reason though critics felt they caved in to public pressure following the death of Duk Koo Kim the previous month.  Along with the reduction in rounds, the WBC allowed the use of the standing 8-count in title matches and stated they were awaiting the results of a medical report before increasing the minute rest between rounds to 90 seconds. 

The rest remained 60 seconds.  That further fueled speculation that the reduction in rounds had motives other than safety.  Some believe the fights were shortened to better fit into American television schedules.  Dr. Ferdie Pacheco pointed out that deaths in amateur boxing outnumbered professional fatalities.  Manager and historian Jimmy Jacobs told the Washington Post, “Of the last 26 ring deaths, only four occurred in the 13th, 14th, or 15th rounds.” 

Cus D’Amato asked, “Must we change the rules because we have a bunch of incompetent trainers who don’t train their fighters right?”

Cus tiptoed across the threshold of a problem few discussed.  While he focused on trainers, a consequence of the proliferation of titles and divisions was the need for more challengers.  And some of those “challengers,” because of attrition, were underqualified to be in “championship” fights to begin with.  Aside from an occasional oddity, such as when Pete Rademacher challenged Floyd Patterson for his title in his professional debut, title challengers were experienced veterans at the top of their games.  A generation ago, the upcoming Charles Martin-Anthony Joshua fight would be a crossroads matchup of prospects clamoring for a ranking rather a 12-round fight for the “world title.”

While the notion of 12-round fights being safer than 15-round fights is debatable, the change in strategies because of the shorter limit is making its presence felt.  Over the years pacing changed and body blows are now increasingly deemed less necessary.  A fighter behind in points has to “go for the knockout” much sooner and without the benefits that a sustained body attack would have provided.  Fighters like Eusebio Pedroza, who concentrated on the body until the 12th or 13th round, would likely be forced to shift their attacks to the head as early as the ninth round. 

And because of the shorter distance, more fighters were willing to cut maximum amounts of weight than they would have if faced with three additional rounds because fighting in a potentially weakened state is more attractive to do over 12 rounds rather than 15.  Which brought about another major change right around the same time.

In order to prevent extremes in dehydration, weigh-ins were changed to the day before rather than the day of.  An extra day to rehydrate was safer, proponents stated.  It is crucial, they say, since a dehydrated brain is much more susceptible to not just the sheer force of a blow, but also the repeated cranial accelerations caused by snapping punches.  

Critics, however, point out that day before weigh-ins encourage weight cutting and as a result, cancels out any safety gains.  Some have even gone on to say that, like 12 round limits, bringing out the scales the day before has as much to do with promotional purposes as it does safety.  Promoters now have an extra day to advertise a match, especially when it involves the headline making, pushing and shoving that occur at some weigh-ins.  In the past, there was no time to report such incidents in the papers and, if they were lucky, it received a mention on the evening news.  Today, it would be trending on every social media platform for 24 hours.   

Experts are split on the topic of when a weigh-in should occur.  One thing for certain, day before weigh-ins have increasingly made a mockery of weight limits.  No longer does a light heavyweight need to weigh 175 pounds on the morning of a fight.  In fact, the IBF calls for a second weigh-in the day of and officially allows a fighter to be as much as ten pounds over the contracted weight the day of the fight.  That effectively makes the light heavyweight limit 185 pounds for IBF title fights. 

That partially explains why a former middleweight champion like Vito Antuofermo looks the same size as a modern welterweight like Paulie Malignaggi.  It also helps to explain why Marvin Hagler is dwarfed by someone like Joe Calzaghe, who is presumably only eight pounds heavier. 

Because of this allowance, Sergey Kovalev can step into the ring to defend his 175-pound title while weighing as much as 185 pounds.  In fact, according to unofficial weigh-ins, he tipped the scales as high as 188 the day of his match against Bernard Hopkins.  Consider that Rocky Marciano weighed 184 on the morning he won the heavyweight title.  The heaviest Marciano weighed in for a title fight was 189.  Instead of debating how Marciano would have fared against Wladimir Klitschko, perhaps we should debate how he would’ve fared against Sergey Kovalev. 

The Rock vs Krusher.  5’10 184-189 vs 5’11 185-188. 

HBO’s unofficial, day of, weights have seen Victor Ortiz weigh 164 instead of 147 for the Mayweather fight and Arturo Gatti tip in at 160 for his 141-pound match against Joey Gamache.  Note that Rocky Graziano weighed 154 the day he beat Tony Zale.  How about matching Graziano against Gatti on the undercard of the Kovalev – Marciano fantasy fight? 

Rocky 5'7 154 vs Arturo 5'7 161.  A junior welter vs a middle yet, because of the day before weigh- in, the junior welter is bigger.

Yes, there was a time when a middleweight weighed under 160.  That was back when one reached for the down filled parka instead of the Hawaiian Tropic during winter in New York. 

 

 

Comment on this article

deepwater2 says:

Bring back 15 rounds.

Go back to the original weight divisions.

Allow cigar smoking in the arena.

The global warming- cooling- man made climate change- carbon dioxide is poison-reduce population - worship the earth god Gaia is an absolute communist power grab and money stealing scheme.

Think.

Please don't spread communist propaganda.

Kid Blast says:

Former fellow writer Joe Corpus (on another site) knows his stuff,

SuperLight says:

Why not both? Weigh in the day before and the morning of the fight. Must make weight both times. What are your thoughts, boys and girls?

Bernie Campbell says:

I'll Wegner for President!

Domenic says:

All aboard here. 15 rounds is the way to go.

miguel1 says:

I would even take it a bit further. Certain re-matches etc I would like to see the rounds extended to even 20. The fighters are better conditioned now than ever in general, and after say two fights at 15 rounds that were very even, a trilogy closer of 20 rounds would not be a bad idea.

The state of New Jersey passed regulations about weigh-ins where the fighters would have to make certain weights in time periods. 30 days before, 7 days before and the day before. This was to prevent the massive 20 lb cuts at a time, etc.

They dont use this process however. The bottom line is if you have a title fight, and people cant make weight, the title fight is off and the promoters get pissed. That is another angle on it that gets missed.

In MMA, a guy died at a weigh-in in Singapore, and the group over there changed immediately over to same day weight ins. Thy effectively moved all their title holders up a weight class.

I have actually been around a LOT of extreme weight cutting and I am against it. One time in the absence of a sauna, the fighters needed to cut weight a clean port o potty was put outside on the hot tennis courst in 90 degree weather, and the guys would go stand in the portopotty with their garbage bags on to sweat.

Radam G says:

I would even take it a bit further. Certain re-matches etc I would like to see the rounds extended to even 20. The fighters are better conditioned now than ever in general, and after say two fights at 15 rounds that were very even, a trilogy closer of 20 rounds would not be a bad idea.

The state of New Jersey passed regulations about weigh-ins where the fighters would have to make certain weights in time periods. 30 days before, 7 days before and the day before. This was to prevent the massive 20 lb cuts at a time, etc.

They dont use this process however. The bottom line is if you have a title fight, and people cant make weight, the title fight is off and the promoters get pissed. That is another angle on it that gets missed.

In MMA, a guy died at a weigh-in in Singapore, and the group over there changed immediately over to same day weight ins. Thy effectively moved all their title holders up a weight class.

I have actually been around a LOT of extreme weight cutting and I am against it. One time in the absence of a sauna, the fighters needed to cut weight a clean port o potty was put outside on the hot tennis courst in 90 degree weather, and the guys would go stand in the portopotty with their garbage bags on to sweat.


Hehehe! I remember those garbage bag sweaters. I used to laugh my arse off because I used always fight a division or two up. Dang! I was allergic to plastic and rubber suits. So no way for the garbage bag sweaters. Holla!

deepwater2 says:

I wore garbage bags under my clothes and carried a spit cup in high school.

Back then we were allowed to wear the plastic suits and ride the stationary bike in the sauna.

Losing 20 lbs in a week was the norm.

Thinking I could do the same in boxing I used those methods. It doesn't work for boxing. I never won a match when drying out like that. Maybe if I had a day instead of hours to rehydrate it would have been different.

Water does the body good.

Related Articles

shanemosleycomesupshortinarizona
twoworldtitlesatstakewhenhannagabrielsbattleskatiaalvarinoincaracasvenezuela
rickyburnskosmichelediroccoinglasgowelevatinghisstatureinthehistorybooks
lucienbutepedscandalbuteqneverneverneverq
stopcryingaboutcanelonotfightinggolovkindosomethingaboutit
hayevsbriggswwewithboxinggloves
britainsconundrumhowtosolveaproblemliketysonfury
thebriggsdimitrenkocancellationfalloutandotheruknotes
robertoqhandsofstoneqduraninbigbearwithsugarshane
floydmayweatherthemcgregorfightisnotarumor

Latest Videos on BoxingChannel.tv


The Talk N Shoot Boxing Podcast - 11th Edition - Triple G Britain Bound? (May 31)


Live Boxing Coverage
IBOFP

Would You pay to see Floyd Mayweather Jr box against Conor McGregor?

77.8%   (14)
22.2%   (4)
Loading...